Yesterday, I gave ten predictions for Tigers batters. Today, I'm going to make guesses for the pitchers. I say "guesses" because pitching is such a crapshoot that it's difficult to make accurate projections.
Unpredictability is why I think people see pitching as so vital compared to other components of the game. I don't think pitching is more important than hitting and fielding in winning games, but it is certainly more unpredictable. Thus, whichever teams can avoid injuries and fluky bad seasons on their pitching staffs tend to win more games than those who are less fortunate. The resulting impression is that pitching is more important. However, I think it's just a case of pitching being more variable than hitting.
Anyway, here are my predictions for the Tigers 2011 staff, followed by a final win total for the Tigers team:
Justin Verlander will avoid his usual slow start and have the best year of his career to this point. He will pitch 240 innings, amass 250 strikeouts and get his ERA under 3.00 for the first time. He will be rewarded with a Cy Young Award for his efforts. I don't like the pitcher wins statistic but, in case somebody asks, I'll say 20!
Max Scherzer will have his ups and downs, but will finish with 190 K and a 3.75 ERA in 200 innings.
Rick Porcello will throw more breaking pitches and finish above 6 K per nine innings for the first time. He will also have excellent control and be among the leaders in ground ball percentage. However, he'll be the victim of mediocre infield defense and finish with a 4.20 ERA.
Brad Penny will stay healthy for the most part and prove to be a valuable addition. He will throw 170 innings with a 4.20 ERA.
Phil Coke will start strong but struggle in the relief role as the season progresses and spend some time in the bullpen. He'll go 140 innings with a 4.65 ERA.
Andy Oliver will make eight starts with mixed results and a final ERA of 4.70. Jacob Turner will make a couple starts in August. He'll show flashes of his potential, but will not be quite ready.
Jose Valverde will bounce back from his shaky second half last year and once again become a top reliever - 35 saves and a 2.75 ERA.
Joaquin Benoit will be a dominant set-up man with a 2.30 ERA and 10/2 K/BB ratio in 65 innings.
The Tigers staff will allow 700 runs, 5th lowest in the league.
The Tigers go 88-74 and win a thrilling three-team race by one game over the Twins and three over the White Sox.